Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai told United States ambassador Christopher Dell that he expected to be found guilty of treason. He was accused of plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.
Judgement in his case had been postponed several times leading to speculation that Judge Paddington Garwe had found him guilty but assessors did not agree with the judge.
Tsvangirai’s lawyers said that the continuing delay was the result of pressure from South African Development Community.
Dell argued that conventional wisdom had long held that the government would find Tsvangirai guilty, sentence him to death, and then pardon him.
“This would disqualify Tsvangirai from running for president but avoid making him a martyr,” he argued.
“However, there are increasing signals that the government, increasingly confident of its electoral position, may opt to avoid any negative publicity and find Tsvangirai not guilty.”
Viewing cable 04HARARE1571, TSVANGIRAI VERDICT DATE SET – OCTOBER 15
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
201147Z Sep 04
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001571
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2014
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI VERDICT DATE SET – OCTOBER 15
REF: A. HARARE 1224
¶B. HARARE 334
¶C. HARARE 268
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.5 b/d.
¶1. (C) Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s lawyers informed
the Embassy on September 17 that the High Court had told them
it would render a verdict in the Tsvangirai treason trial on
October 15. The case concluded in February 2004, more than a
year after it started.
¶2. (C) Originally, the court was to render its verdict in
August. However, the verdict was postponed,
supposedlybecause the two assessors on the panel had
requested full transcripts of the trial for further review.
Tsvangirai’s lawyers speculated at the time that the real
reason for the postponement was that Judge Garwe had already
decided on a guilty verdict, but that the two assessors did
¶3. (C) Tsvangirai’s lawyers said that the continuing delay
was the result of pressure from South African Development
Council (SADC) pressure. According to their “sources” within
the government, the GOZ had told SADC partners at the August
16-18 Summit in Mauritius that Tsvangirai would be found
guilty, but this received widespread negative reaction,
especially from South Africa.
¶3. (C) Comment: Conventional wisdom has long held that the
government would find Tsvangari guilty, sentence him to
death, and then pardon him. This would disqualify Tsvangari
from running for president but avoid making him a martyr.
However, there are increasing signals that the government,
increasingly confident of its electoral position, may opt to
avoid any negative publicity and find Tsvangari not guilty.
Tsvangari himself told the Ambassador September 17 (septel)
that he expected to be found guilty in August but would now
not be surprised at a not-guilty verdict. End Comment